「ギルガメッシュ紀行」 (Girugamesshu Kikou)
J.R.R. Tolkiens’s novel The Hobbit is a story of a band of dwarves (and one hobbit) going off on an adventure to steal their treasure back from a dragon. The leader of that band was an enormously important dwarf named Thorin Oakenshield. But even though Thorin was an enormously important dwarf indeed, a hero to his people and an uncrowned king, he is first introduced to us as the bottom of a pile of dwarves who had fallen over at doorway of the titular hobbit, Bilbo. He goes through the novel much like this, as a rather haughty dwarf who is nonetheless subjected to indignity after indignity. Partly this is because The Hobbit was a children’s bedtime story and the tribulations of Thorin was a comedic way to demonstrate the tribulations of his people. But subjecting Thorin to a bit of the comic relief treatment also brought him down to earth, where he needed to be at least for a while to build a bond with Bilbo, a very down-to-earth hobbit, and also with his fellow dwarves, who didn’t follow Thorin just because of his enormous importance but because they were kith and kin.
Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, though, allowed Thorin to keep his dignity. It was, after all, supposed to be a much more serious take on The Hobbit, in the style of The Lord of the Rings, and so Thorin had to be a much more serious character. Obviously a put-upon dwarf just wouldn’t do; they wanted another Aragorn and so Thorin had to be enormously important all the time and certainly not participate in any dwarf-piles. The result was that Thorin became a more impressive character and the movies were more impressive in turn, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was lost for it. A more aloof dwarf is also a less empathetic one. Even Aragorn had to do time as Strider. And the sense of camaraderie between the adventuring party, central to the Hobbit tale, was lessened. Perhaps they just didn’t have time to develop these relationships. Busy with their dwarf-elf love triangle. Priorities.
We’re not here to critique disappointing movie trilogies though. This is about Gilgamesh. Around this time in the Fate/Grand Order game King Gilgamesh became something of a comic relief character. This was something of a silly juncture in the story, still (we’ve just said goodbye to Jaguarman, after all) and Gilgamesh gets to participate this time. And yes, even though he is an enormously important king he is made to suffer indignities, and I feel this was good for him. Goldie has spent too much time as a power-mad megalomaniac and needed to come down a bit. In Babylonia he needs to make friends and play nice(r). Sure, yes, we want him to look the good king but infallibility isn’t interesting so it wouldn’t hurt for Gil to clown around a bit.
Like the Hobbit movies, though, it doesn’t seem this Babylonia anime has time for comedy. Instead, the trip to the observatory has been used for our by now familiar travelling buddies: exposition and flashbacks! We’ve already telegraphed that this would happen and these info sessions are undoubtedly necessary in some form, but unfortunately more sitting and talking is not particularly engaging, especially when the dialogue is not exactly sharp. Of course, the highlight of the episode is the fight between Gil and
Edward Elric fake!Enkidu. While that was super shiny it was entirely serious Gil being serious and doesn’t really serve to open his character.
I know I more or less approved of the anime giving Jaguarman plenty of serious action last week, but that was a character who needed to be portrayed more seriously, given the context. Gil, I feel, had the opposite problem. As such I feel that this episode didn’t do as much for his character as it could have, and was more focused on providing development for fake!Enkidu. That’s all well and good and completely important, but I think we would have been served by seeing more of the Gil who we could imagine goofing off with his green-haired friend in his past, who now goofs off with the Chaldea crew and can be considered an initiated member of this ragtag save-the-world crew. It goes to show that comic relief isn’t just for levity; there’s character in it as well.